When I was three, my family moved from a small farm town in the middle of nowhere to a large city several hundred miles away where my mother was born and raised. For a time, we lived in my maternal grandparents’ basement until my parents bought a house a few blocks down the street. Here are some additional memories of various things that happened during the 18 months we lived there.
We are crowded together in the basement and I think most of us sleep on sleeper sofas or cots for a while. My grandma promises me that if I take a nap, she will have a special treat ready for when I wake up. I insist that I’m not tired, but I fall asleep anyway. When I wake up, she gives me a scrapbook she made while I was asleep, filled with all kinds of interesting pictures clipped out of magazines. I love it, and it remains one of my most treasured possessions to this day.
I sit on the kitchen counter next to the sink, chatting with my grandma and looking at little china figurines and colorful little informational cards about animals, both of which came as freebies in each box of my grandma’s favorite brand of tea.
My grandpa sits at the kitchen table as we talk about what grandma is making for supper: something with chicken. We say we love chicken, and my grandpa jokingly says, “If you love it, why don’t you kiss it?”
Grandma decides to make papier-mâché objects to entertain us. I’m fascinated by the balloons she uses as the form to hold up the wet, glue-y newspaper.
Grandma works in her garden tending to her flowers and vegetables out back and alongside the driveway to the garage, which sits behind the house. There is a gazing ball among the flowers (petunias, I think). Grandpa has all of his tools neatly organized in the large garage, and there is a set of foldout stairs leading to storage above the garage.
Grandpa sometimes takes us for a walk a few blocks away to a nearby store to buy ice cream and candy. I particularly remember candy necklaces, Necco wafers, and candy cigarettes (yikes) he buys us.
I get my first bike, replete with training wheels, and enjoy riding it up and down the sidewalk in front of my grandparents’ house. I also have a lot of fun riding my Big Wheel in the driveway and on the sidewalk.
My grandparents’ house is full of interesting things:
- the laundry chute in the first floor hallway
- a hand painted plaque above the toilet quoting Exodus 28:34
- a cuckoo clock bought during a trip to Switzerland
- an old cowbell, also from Switzerland (which I still have, mounted on the wall in our living room)
- their next door neighbor has a pear tree from which we enjoy many stolen pears (I still love pears)
Also during this time, I go to the hospital to have my tonsils out. I stay overnight after the operation. I wake up scared in the middle of the night in my hospital room. I climb out of my crib and wander the hallways looking for my parents. I also eat vanilla pudding and drink soft Coca Cola to help with my sore throat.